Obadiah (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He watches over His children and brings justice to their enemies

Everyone remembers the schoolyard bully, the individual who was always mocking, pulling hair, pushing down and taking lunch money.  The bullies seemed to be six foot tall and weigh 200 lbs., but usually, they were just meaner than anyone else.  Somehow they were able to do their evil deeds when the teacher wasn’t looking.  For the bully in the book of Obadiah, the day of reckoning had come.  The teacher was watching, and punishment was on the way.

Israel had been bullied by Edom for a very long time.  When the brothers, Jacob and Esau, parted company many years back, everything appeared to be amicable.  Jacob went on to inhabit the land of Canaan, and Esau lived in Edom, but apparently, the stolen birthright from so long ago did not settle well with the Edomites.  They showed repeated hostility throughout the centuries and would not let the Israelites who were escaping out of Egypt make passage through their land.  Now the final blow had been dealt when they cheered the invading Babylonians who destroyed their brother and then they proceeded to plunder the land themselves.  However, God was watching.

“The Lord says to Edom, ‘I will cut you down to size among the nations; you will be greatly despised.  You have been deceived by your own pride because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. ‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’ you ask boastfully. But even if you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down,’ says the Lord…Because of the violence you did to your close relatives in Israel, you will be filled with shame and destroyed forever.” (2-4,10)  Bullies are filled with pride and arrogance, but when they harm God’s people, they put themselves in a position to be brought crashing down, whether in this life or in eternity.

“As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you.  All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads.” (15) In the fourth century, Edom was swallowed up by the invading Arabs, and it no longer exists as a nation.  Israel, however, is a nation today.  God was watching, and He is watching all the bullies in our lives, those governments and individuals alike, who mock us, push us down and try to steal our faith. God will take care of it

Paul told the Romans, “Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” (12:19) Even when it looks as though our bully has the upper hand, God is watching and taking note.  He knows how to handle bullies. 

Moving Forward:  I’m so thankful that God is watching over me today, taking note and tending to the bullies that come my way! 

Tomorrow @ Acts 1-2

Ezekiel 25-30 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He longs for repentance that stops the hand of judgment

Revenge – how sweet it is!  At least that seems to be a prevailing attitude in our culture.  Many have adopted the idiom, “Don’t get mad, get even.”  My husband tells a joke that is appropriate here – A 16-year old boy arrives home driving a brand new truck. The father shouts, “Where did you get that truck?  You don’t have any money.”  The boy replies, “I bought it from a lady down the street for $15!”  Well, this alarmed the father. What kind of woman would sell this truck for $15? She must have an ulterior motive.

The father rushed down the street and asked the woman why she did this.  The woman replied, “Well, I thought my husband was on a business trip, but I just received a call from him from Hawaii.  Seems he ran off with his mistress and is in need of money.  He asked me to sell his car and send him the money…so I did.”  Scary stuff, revenge is.

Revenge may bring some immediate gratification, but the long-term ramifications can wipe that smile right off a face.  Better to put payback in the hands of God, “Dear friends, never take revenge.  Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)  In our reading today, Israel’s neighbors were about to feel the heat.

The seven nations surrounding tiny Israel had long persecuted and attacked God’s chosen people.  Even though His own people were sinful and rebellious at times, God would avenge them because they were His responsibility and not that of the surrounding nations.  Judgment was coming to Ammon, Moab, Edom Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and proud Egypt because they rejoiced at Israel’s devastation at the hands of Babylon and cheered at the desecration of the Temple.  Ancient racism toward the Israelites had filled their hearts, as well as jealousy over Israel’s many victories.

God’s vengeance was swift, and these nations eventually met their own fate at Babylon’s mighty sword.  At the end of each pronouncement of judgment, God said something similar to, “When I have inflicted my revenge, they will know that I am the Lord.” (25:17)  Revenge did not come from Israel, it came from the Lord; however, He would have stayed His hand of judgment at the first sign of repentance.  In Ezekiel 18:23, God asked Ezekiel, “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die?… Of course not!  I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.”  God is merciful.

From these scriptures, we can learn about God’s attitude concerning our enemies.  He knows their past, present and future and why they do the things they do, facts we are seldom privy to.  He will often withhold dealing with an offense towards us because He knows that our enemy’s battle is really with Him, not with us, or He knows that restoration is in the future.  God is merciful; but without repentance, in due time judgment is His to give.

When we take matters into our own hands to get even, we may circumvent God’s divine plan to bring healing and restoration to our relationships.  Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also…Love your enemies!  Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:39,44-45)   Sometimes we just get dizzy from turning that cheek so many times, and we start to think He just doesn’t understand the pain from the hurtful things said or done to us, the betrayal and the rejection.  But then, of course, He does. Remember Calvary? 

Moving Forward:  Sunny today, with no chance of revenge.  Should an enemy develop throughout the day, I won’t get even – I won’t even get mad- because God is in control!

Tomorrow @ Luke 19-20